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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Are we truly in dire need for protein to start eating leatherback turtle eggs?

It's truly sad to read about locals in the Huon coast, in Morobe Province harvesting leatherback turtle eggs for protein.  If the story in one of the daily newspapers yesterday is true, then I urge responsible stakeholders to address this issue.  Leatherback turtle is the largest sea turtle that has survived the dinosaur era some 100 million years ago. It swims the furthest (6,000 miles) from PNG to California and the Gulf of Mexico to feed before returning to PNG to nest.  It takes about two years for a matured leatherback turtle to travel this voyage.  After avoiding all the risks to arrive at its place of birth just to lay eggs and produce the next generation of leatherback turtles, it ends up in someone's pot and belly.  Some other unique features about the leatherback turtle is that they dive the deepest to feed on jelly fish, they measure about 3 meters and can weigh up to 500kg.  They are PNG's marine flagship.  Little is done to save them at the national and local level yet they happen to be one of PNG's key tourism products.  If saved and restored it could actually provide the same people who are harvesting and eating their eggs, added value through monetary benefit.  This alternative option can offset the lack of protein on their plates or source of income that is driving them to harvest leatherback turtle eggs for sale and for protein.  Once we see the significance of saving critically endangered species like this leatherback turtle, we will appreciate their importance and take pride to conserve them.  Saving key species help contribute towards saving our ecological system, restore and appreciate our cultural heritage, promotes wealth, and a array of other multiple positive impacts both locally and globally  in a larger scale. In New Guinea the second largest leatherback nesting site is found right there in Huon coast of Morobe Province second only to the largest site in West Papua.  Efforts are being made by our group (MAKATA) in Madang to save other sporadic nesting sites of the leatherback turtles.  We intend to sustain this effort both in Madang and in other parts of the county as long as we receive grants from generous donors.

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